I must say… this has been a very exciting year for Dubai, and I feel so lucky to be living here and being a part of an emerging fashion industry. You might have heard, seen the billboards, or even dropped by to see Fashion Forward last weekend. Brag (compiled of a strong team – Bong Guerrero, Saira Mehar, and Shahi Hamad) came up with a concept to start a fashion week in Dubai, and call it Fashion Forward – a great strategy due to the bad reputation Dubai Fashion Week has built for themselves over the past few years. Some people were skeptical – which was natural as this was their first season and people love to talk more they can do here in Dubai. However, I must say Bong, and his team blew us away – the 4 day event exceeded my expectations. With a schedule of shows by handpicked designers (who were also mentored by FIT), curated panels for academic discussions, pop up shops and a fashion cafe at the Madinat conference center – the venue reminded me of the Lincoln center. I didn’t make it to everything due to time constraints, I thought I’d share a diary of my experience this season. Let me just say, I was lucky to attend great shows, but must make more next season.
8 30pm – Essa Show
Essa, Essa. Probably the first designer I was a fan of in the Middle East – met him when I was around 15 years old, and been a fan of his work ever since. Over the past few years, Essa has stuck to his signature Middle Eastern style (He grew up in Sharjah!), but constantly ups his game by keeping his designs current, edgy and different.
3pm – Academic lecture – Louise Foster, Zayan, Rabih Kayrouz
A super interesting lecture by 3 influential people within the Middle Eastern industry talking about fashion within the Middle East, and it’s identity. Two quotes I picked up, and thought I’d share.
The cliche of the middle eastern woman looking for ornaments OTT, blingy fashion does actually exist and brings a lot of sales. However, there is also a new customer who is more fashion savvy. – Zayan
The middle eastern woman considers every place she walks, the catwalk – Rabih Kayrouz
4pm – Dima Ayad show
Supported the dear and sweet, Dima Ayad at her show – by wearing Dima Ayad (look out for my look of the day). Dima stuck to her signature style of evening pieces, with an emphasis on Fall trend shades such as deep plums and gold, and featured a great deal of lace. Fell hard for a gorgeous Aubergine dress from the Fall collection!
5pm – KAGE show
I love Kage because the brand is what it is – fun, girly, easy to wear pieces. The collection had a great emphasis on golds, leather, and blacks that I want to wear now. Yet another perfect collection Arwa & Basma!
8pm – Zayan show
As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of Zayan’s work – whether her store, S*uce, her style or her line. Anything associated with Zayan is fun, so I was super excited for this show. Everything from the playlist, the hilarious Satwa slogans to the playful attitude of the models made you want to be the Zayan Fall girl.
9 30pm – Ayesha Depala show
& Fashion Forward ends perfectly with one of the shows I was eager to see – Ayesha Depala. One of our original Dubai Based designers… I can spot an Ayesha Depala piece from a mile away – feminine and sweet with a touch of ruffles or lace. Saying that, Ayesha ups her game season by season, and expands more RTW pieces like trousers, lace capes and easy to wear cocktail dresses. The show ended with some perfect attention to detail dresses.
A closing luncheon hosted by CFDA’s CEO, Steven Kolb with guest of honor, Designer Reem Acra. Steven gave an inspiring talk to the industry (an invite only event) and spoke about the CFDA, fashion, and Fashion Forward. “Fashion is a universal language, and programmes like Fashion Forward fuel creativity and stimulate the economy,” said Kolb, during his keynote. That was then followed by a three course lunch.
FYI Designers, you can now apply for Season two taking place in October on Fashionforward.ae